Substance Info: (and synonyms)
Date fruit

Background Info:

See also: Date Palm tree

Although there are many Palms that we call "Date Palms" (e.g., Pygmy Date Palm, Senegal Date Palm, Canary Island Date Palm), Phoenix dactylifera is the true Date Palm from which the tasty fruit is obtained. With a history stretching back over 5,000 years, this venerable fruit grows in thick clusters on the giant Date Palm, native to the Middle East. Dates require a hot, dry climate and, besides Africa and the Middle East, flourish in California and Arizona. Date-producing Arab countries are Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, the UAE, and Yemen. Between them Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, and Saudi Arabia produce 600 different kinds of dates, which accounts for 60% of the world's production. In Saudi Arabia, Madinah's date market (Souq Al Tumoor) contains about 150 varieties, the most popular of which is Anbara, the most expensive.

The Date Palm tree, a tall, evergreen, unbranched Palm, grows up to 30 m and start producing Dates after 4-5 years and reach full production after 10-12 years. The fruit of the Date is a drupe and has one seed, and can vary in size, shape, color and quality of flesh. Unripe Dates are green in colour, maturing to yellow, then reddish-brown when fully ripe. Wild Dates are morphologically and ecologically similar to domesticated Dates but have smaller, inedible fruits. The maximum length of the fruit is about 6cm. All Dates have a single, long, narrow seed. The skin is thin and papery, the flesh cloyingly sweet.

A single large bunch may contain more than a thousand dates, and can weigh between 6 to 8 kg. Dates are sweet-tasting oval, and soft brownish, growing profusely on long, hanging strands. Each tree produces between five and ten bunches. A mature female tree can produce upwards of 150 pounds of fruit annually. Wild dates are morphologically and ecologically similar to domesticated dates but have smaller, inedible fruits. Although there are at least 150 varieties, but there are two main types: Dry and Bread Dates are self-curing on the tree; Soft Dates require harvest at the appropriate time and sun-drying to increase sugar content and prevent spoilage. The latter are packaged traditionally in Palm leaves and widely traded.

The Date is often the only available staple food for the inhabitants of desert and other arid lands, and as such it is vital to millions throughout North Africa and the Middle East.

Edible Dates are produced only by cultivation. When fresh, Dates contain about 55% sugar, a percentage that increases dramatically as the Date dries and the sugar becomes concentrated. Dates can be eaten fresh, but are usually marketed dried, and sometimes as a syrup. They yield food products such as vinegar, wine, 'honey', chutney or sweet pickle, paste for bakery products, and flavorings, in particular as additional flavoring for oranges, bananas and almonds. Date syrup is a sugar substitute. Date sap is made into a fermented beverage, and a flour is made from the pith of the tree. The seeds yield an edible oil. Even the tree's terminal buds (Heart of Palm) make tasty additions to vegetable salads. Dates are a good source of protein, iron, fibre, potassium, and vitamin C. Dates, however, contain tyramine, which may cause migraine in susceptible people. Since Dates are high in sugar, they may cause tooth decay and gum disease. Five dates (approx. 45 grams) contain about 115 calories, nearly all from carbohydrates.

Regarded as aphrodisiac, contraceptive, demulcent, diuretic, emollient, estrogenic, expectorant, laxative, pectoral, purgative, and refrigerant, the Date is used in many folk remedies, especially for respiratory complaints and diseases of gentio-urinary system. A plaster of the nuts or of the bark is also a folk remedy.

The leaves are used for making ropes, mats, baskets, crates, furniture, fencing and roofing. Bases of the leaves and the fruit stalks are used as fuel. The wood is used for construction and the seed oil for soap manufacture.


Adverse Reactions:


[ 1 / 3 ]

Allergenicity can vary considerably between different varieties of the same species. For example, differences in allergenicity have been confirmed between varieties of apple (Vieths 1994 ref.844 11), olive pollen (Carnes 2002 ref.5664 7), sesame seed (Fremont 2002 ref.6669 8) and dates (Kwaasi 2000 ref.4671 7).

Lucas JS, Lewis SA, Trewin JB, Grimshaw KE, Warner JO, Hourihane JO. Comparison of the allergenicity of Actinidia deliciosa (kiwi fruit) and Actinidia chinensis (gold kiwi). Pediatr Allergy Immunol 2005 Dec;16(8):647-54.

[ 2 / 3 ]

Date fruit are eaten daily by most inhabitants of the Middle East and the neighboring countries. In a study, date-fruit extracts from eight cultivars were evaluated in skin prick tests (SPT) in an atopic population. About 13% of patients were SPT-positive for at least two date fruit extracts. (Kwaasi 1999 ref.4672 6)

Kwaasi AA, Harfi HA, Parhar RS, Al-Sedairy ST, Collison KS, Panzani RC, et al. Allergy to date fruits: characterization of antigens and allergens of fruits of the date palm (Phoenix dactylifera L.). Allergy 1999;54(12):1270-1277

[ 3 / 3 ]

Immediate hypersensitivity reaction: pharyngeal pruritis, oedema of the lips, dyspnoea, wheezing, dysphagia and dysphonia. (Gonzalo 1997 ref.622 92)

Gonzalo MA, Moneo I, Ventas P, Polo F, Garcia JM. Immediate hypersensitivity reaction to date. Allergy 1997;52(5):598-9


No Records


No Records

Information supplied from an abridged section of:
Allergy Advisor - Zing Solutions

© 2014

Allergy Advisor  - Food Additive and Preservative Allergy and Intolerance Database